“Truly one of the best conversations I’ve ever had about my own work happen with Ashia Ajani” – Phillip B. Williams, author of Mutiny
I offer a host of writing workshops, poetry performances, and conference presentations. Currently booking Fall 2022 & Winter 2023
Memory Production and Reclamation: The Power of Knowing with Ashia Ajani
This seminar will focus on how events are distilled and remembered through the poetic lens. How does memory get distorted through poetics? How can it become illuminated? Who is allowed to remember? How does memory get produced, reclaimed, reckoned with? This workshop is designed for young writers interested in the griot tradition of storytelling. The goal of this intensive is to encourage students to develop poems through their own lens of memory through revision, examining Black art and comparison. We will focus on how poets are the mediums through which humanity remembers itself by sitting with the uncomfortable and the subtext.
Myth Making & Environment: Creation, Destruction, Futurity
This workshop will use climate writing and art by members of the African Diaspora to inform young people’s own climate narratives. Climate change is one of the biggest sources of stress among young people; being able to write about our feelings and experiences with environmental harms allows for space to process these emotions and envision futures beyond harm. This workshop is designed for young writers who are interested in developing their use of imagery. This workshop will use African and Caribbean mythology to analyze how different diasporic people have interpreted natural disasters and climate impacts for millennia, and what we can learn from these myths. We will also look at the art of Eddy Kamaunga Illuga, whose imagery around colonization and the exploitation of African nations under capitalism and the climate crisis holds powerful insight for understanding how apocalyptic conditions have plagued the African diaspora in an anti-Black world. Students will leave the workshops with written drafts, ancestral knowledge and environmental futures
Black Environmental Writing: Roots, Veins, Rhythm
The Black diaspora has a rich tradition of environmental writing, though oftentimes these themes are overlooked. This workshop will be an intermediate approach to Black eco-literature and its important contributions to environmental, social and climate justice. Participants will read literature by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Lucille Clifton, Thylias Moss and Nikky Finney to think about the ways in which the Black diaspora has both influenced and been influenced by the natural world. Participants will be encouraged to draw upon their own experiences and engagements with the natural world to generate shared knowledge about Black/nature relationships.
Storytelling Our Climate Futures
Storytelling & Climate Futures hinges on the fact that storytelling brings us closer together. Stories reveal what is important, what our values are, what is worthy of preservation. Poetry has been revealed to increase empathy, and is an effective teaching tool, particularly when it comes to topics like climate change. Storytelling has been a cornerstone of the Black tradition since before the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was (and still is) a way to harbor memory, pass on tradition from generation to generation, and honor the histories that make up Black life. We will be looking at a couple of climate themed poems by Indigenous and Black authors in order to build our own storytelling familiarity.
Navigating Silence: Embracing the Unsaid in Poetics
This craft intensive is designed to maximize our utilization of silence in poetry through studying space and gaps in poems. This course will focus on helping writers navigate silence in a way that adds, not detracts from their writing to create nuance, pause and dramatic swells that engage the reader. The goal of this intensive is to provide students with the tools needed to create and cut lines strategically in order to strengthen their own voice through efficient storytelling and craftsmanship. By studying poets such as David Keplinger, Elizabeth Alexander, and Paul Blackburn (to name a few), we will create poems that explore shifts, tone and repetition in ways that elevate the said by honoring the unsaid. This is a generative writing workshop, which will also include close readings and discussion. Students will leave the course with written drafts and future prompts/reading lists surrounding the methodology of stillness.
“Ashia was an engaging facilitator who made space for everyone to share their thoughts. I appreciated how they used different pieces of writing from well known Black writers to guide discussion.”
Vox Media Black Environmental Literature Workshop Participant